12 hours to paradise

I really shouldn’t use boats to travel. If you don’t believe me, see my previous posts about a boating experience I’ll never forget in Cambodia, taking the tiny boat from Siem Reap to Battambang: The implausible sensation of impending doomThe boat is sinking!” and other things you never want to hear when on a boat; Everything’s gonna be alright … rockabye?; Warning: Life vests may be ineffective in ankle deep water; and A stick in the mud at duskI’m still twitching from that.

However, since I now have moved to Hong Kong, I fear using boats as a form of transportation will be inevitable. Ah, well. I’ll just hop on my little sampan and transport myself to an island if need be … but boats. They can be a wee bit scary at times.

I digress.

After leaving Chiang Mai, we headed toward Koh Samui, which involves a flight to Bangkok, then a flight to somewhere over the rainbow near Koh Samui (Sarat Thani), a bus, and then a ferry boat to the island. Once on the island, one must take a taxi or transfer van to one’s hotel.

Yes, even after the insane debacle that was the “river” (ie, trickling stream) boat in Cambodia, I tempted fate once more by taking a speedboat to Koh Samui. I just hoped that this one lived up to its illustrious photograph.

We started our long day’s journey at 6:30 AM by leaving for the Chiang Mai Airport. After an hour, we were in Bangkok, whereupon we caught another hour’s flight to Sarat Thani. No big deal, really. Easy, quick flights. Then, we boarded a bus with awesome 80s window fringe and tassels (oh my word, the tassels. I can’t handle tassels!) and trawled along for about two hours. That was an extra hour I was not anticipating being in a bus.

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I feel like I’m in a game show bus?
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One had to take a bus selfie with the hot pink bathroom curtain, simply to demonstrate the awesomeness of the bus deco.

Then the boat. Oh, the boat. It was lovely and big, so that was two pluses right off. It looked safe. Three pluses. We had to run down the pier to the boat because it was leaving rightthen. Apparently. However, upon review after running down to the boat, it wasn’t going to leave for another half hour. Glad we ran with our backpacks and suitcases. Sigh. Island time…

The view, of course, was gorgeous, all water and islands and fishing boats. That was about forty minutes of viewing pleasure, at least.

Then, there’s a massive rush off the boat in Koh Samui to collect luggage and find the vans heading to our hotel/bungalow. At least we were given a number, which helped, and got all our stuff into the van before it sped off.

The van ride took another hour nearly (seriously – how far apart are these places, I wondered!), and we were unceremoniously dropped off in Bophut Beach near Fisherman’s Village and told “go straight, then left.” Of course, there was a Friday night street market going on, so we had to navigate through a huge, milling crowd of people wandering around and suddenly going “squirrel!” (or equivalent, as they spotted something they liked at a market stall), trying not to run over small children, poodles, and other miscellaneous critters as we tried to find our hotel.

I was hot, sweaty, and short of patience by this point, not to mention very, very tired and travel-weary. I stopped by the Happy Elephant Restaurant to inquire as to where this bungalow place had to be, and he was like, “30 seconds more, over there.” Praise heaven! I busted through that crowd like a shopper on Black Friday looking for an Xbox at record prices.

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Bustling Friday market @ Fisherman’s Village

Our bungalow was a slice of heaven after the madness of the crowd and 12 hours’ worth of travel from one end of Thailand to the other. Tucked back into tropical trees, past a koi pond skimmed with a ginormous water spider, and dotted with orchids everywhere, the bungalow was quiet and unassuming. Even the outdoor shower/bathroom combo didn’t faze me after all this hullaballoo.

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So “Couple’s Retreat”! – my first thought upon seeing the kissing swan towels.
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Yep, we’re in a jungle.

In the end, however, we had a fabulous view of the beach and water, and it was pretty much worth the hassle of the travel…

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Moral of the story is, friends, that if you don’t like out-of-your-way travel experiences, then you should pay more and fly directly into Koh Samui. There’s certainly a healthy dose of humour in travel like what we’d done, of course, but really, the exhaustion had set in, and it’s only now, when I’m reflecting on the trip, that the humour is coming out.

Good thing, right, because we had to do this same process in reverse in just four days hence …

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